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Press Release

Maryland Man Pleads Guilty for Possession of Sex Abuse Videos of Infant and Prepubescent Children

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia

            WASHINGTON – Joseph Ruben Baer, 20, of Silver Spring, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to a federal child pornography charge stemming from his distribution of child pornography to an undercover law enforcement agent in April 2024, announced U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Scott, of the Washington Field Office Criminal and Cyber Division, and Chief Pamela A. Smith, of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

                Baer pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of possession of child pornography.  The Honorable Loren L. AliKhan scheduled sentencing for September 23, 2024.

            According to plea documents, in early 2024, a member of the FBI–MPD Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force was monitoring an online dating application in an undercover capacity. Law enforcement had learned that the application is sometimes used by individuals who have a sexual interest in children. The undercover agent encountered Baer, who sent a message believing he was communicating with a pedophile. Baer expressed an interest in child pornography and later sent the undercover agent two video files via an encrypted messaging application. Those video files depicted Baer masturbating while watching child pornography on a laptop computer. Baer was arrested in the District of Columbia on May 10, 2024. Law enforcement subsequently recovered seven child pornography videos from Baer’s iPhone, which included the two video files he had earlier distributed to the undercover agent. The videos depict the sexual abuse of infant and prepubescent children.

            Baer has remained in custody since his May 10, 2024, arrest.

            Baer faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, Baer must pay mandatory restitution of at least $3,000 to any identified victim. The statutory sentences for federal offenses are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only. Any sentence will be determined by the Court based on the advisory Sentencing Guideline and other statutory factors.

            This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

            This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office and MPD’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force is composed of FBI agents, along with other federal agents and detectives from northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. The task force is charged with investigating and bringing federal charges against individuals engaged in the exploitation of children and those engaged in human trafficking.  Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland and the U.S. Marshals Service. 

            The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul V. Courtney.


Updated June 24, 2024

Project Safe Childhood
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 24-530